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Head coach Dino Babers said he’s looking for either Tommy DeVito or Garrett Shrader to win the starting quarterback battle on the field ahead of Syracuse’s matchup with Albany. The Orange’s offense struggled in their loss against Rutgers, scoring just seven points and committing five turnovers.
“Quarterbacks can practice, but they don’t get hit, they don’t get touched … So you’ve got to put them on the field and you’ve got to let them do it on the field,” Babers said. “Don’t leave the decision up to me. Because eventually, I will make the decision, so they need to get it done.”
Here are three takeaways from Babers’ weekly press conference following SU’s loss to Rutgers:
Quarterback battle continues
Babers started DeVito for the second straight week against Rutgers. The quarterback went 7-for-10 in the first quarter, but he was unable to produce any scoring drives. Receiver Taj Harris fumbled while looking for extra yardage inside the red zone in the opening quarter. The score was still tied 0-0 going into the second quarter.
Instead of staying with DeVito during the game against Rutgers, Babers switched to Shrader, who transferred from Mississippi State in December and only played sparingly in SU’s win over Ohio. Shrader’s first two drives ended with three-and-outs, but he was able to lead the Orange down the field late in the quarter. The drive ended with a missed field goal by kicker Andre Szmyt, and Shrader ended his first game in the Carrier Dome with 42 yards passing on 4-of-6 passing.
Shrader native showed more of a willingness to leave the pocket early and run for yardage, but the Charlotte, North Carolina, native never picked up more than two yards scrambling. DeVito started and played the entire second half, finishing with 149 yards and an interception.
Babers said he planned before the game to substitute Shrader in for DeVito, but he added that making the switch disrupted the rhythm of both quarterbacks.
“We decided we were going to play (Shrader) in the second quarter, no matter what,” Babers said. “The previous game, we went by feel, and we got him in late — we didn’t get an opportunity. We want to see him out on the field. To do that, you have to make a commitment to do that.”
Garrett Williams’ status
Starting cornerback Garrett Williams was seen limping on the sidelines during the second half of the loss against Rutgers, and Babers wouldn’t comment on his status postgame. Babers said during the press conference that he hadn’t had a chance to see Williams since the game, but he’s confident that Williams is OK and that the injury won’t keep him out long term.
“Garrett’s one of those guys that’s extremely tough, he really is. He has an old-school mentality about him and he is all team first, if he can go, he’ll go. So I expect him to be out there, and that’s the truthful answer,” Babers said.
Williams is expected to be the next Syracuse player selected in the NFL Draft after Andre Cisco, Trill Williams and Ifeatu Melifonwu all signed with teams last spring. He typically guards opposing teams’ top receivers, and Babers raced down the sideline to flash a thumbs up at Williams after his strong man-to-man coverage. Williams is also a large part of SU’s special teams unit, Babers said, and the redshirt sophomore made multiple tackles on returns against Rutgers.
Looking toward Albany
Syracuse’s only matchup against a Football Championship Subdivision team comes Saturday against Albany. The Great Danes didn’t play last fall, but they played four games in the spring, going 1-3. In 2019, Albany went 9-5 and finished in the top 20 in FCS rankings.
Based on how Syracuse’s defense performed against Rutgers, “they don’t care who they’re playing,” Babers said about the Orange. The Scarlet Knights scored 61 points in their week one win over Temple but totaled just 195 total yards against SU. They were held scoreless until over halfway through the third quarter, too.
“(The Orange) have a standard, they’re not going to lower their standard for anybody, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do, because they seem like they’re truly committed,” Babers said.
Albany, Babers said, features many players who weren’t heavily recruited or even rated in some instances. Jacksonville State, another FCS team, upset Florida State on the road on Saturday, but Babers said Syracuse needs to focus on cleaning up their mistakes before thinking about the Great Danes.
“Based off what just happened last week, we need to concentrate on us and then we’ll get ready for Albany,” Babers said.
The post Dino Babers talks quarterback battle, Garrett Williams ahead of Albany game appeared first on The Daily Orange.